Preventing Weight Gain After Breast Cancer Diagnosis May Relieve Hot Flashes

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(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – Prevention of weight (and fat) gain after a diagnosis of breast cancer—“a modifiable behavior that may have other prognostic benefits”—may offer a viable intervention for relief of hot flashes, a multicenter study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology published online March 19 has concluded.

Caan et al noted that survivors of breast cancer tend to gain weight following diagnosis and treatment. Using data from 3,088 women enrolled in the Women's Healthy Eating and Living study who previously were treated for early-stage breast cancer, they examined the association between weight change after diagnosis and the odds of reporting hot flashes.

Overall, 36.1% of women reported moderate to severe flashes at study entry; 66% reported using tamoxifen at baseline. At 2 years following a diagnosis of breast cancer 26.0% had gained at least 10%, 69.2% remained within 10%, and 4.8% had lost at least 10% of their prediagnosis weight.

Those who gained at least 10% of their prediagnosis weight had a greater risk of reporting hot flashes than women who remained weight stable in that same period (OR, 1.33; P=0.003). Weight loss of at least 10% of prediagnosis weight was associated with a nonsignificant reduced risk (OR, 0.72; P =0.118) of reporting hot flashes.

“There was a significant linear trend for the effect of weight change on reports of hot flashes at baseline whether weight loss was examined categorically or continuously,” they wrote. “The strengths of our study include being the only study of breast cancer survivors with longitudinal data on both weight change and hot flash status postdiagnosis at several points in time, including up to 6 years postdiagnosis. In addition, weight at all time periods (except prediagnosis weight) was measured in clinic.”

The investigators concluded that further research should focus on whether intentional weight loss in survivors of breast cancer can have a positive effect on hot flash occurrence.


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